cover image Glenn Burke, Game Changer: The Man Who Invented the High Five

Glenn Burke, Game Changer: The Man Who Invented the High Five

Phil Bildner, illus. by Daniel J. O’Brien. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $18.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-374-39122-5

“On the baseball diamond, Glenn Burke was a five-tool talent,” begins this sobering account of Major League Baseball player Burke (1952–1995). Portraying the athlete as someone who “could change the game,” Bildner conveys Burke’s high energy, which endears him to his L.A. Dodgers teammates and fans. But he experiences discrimination from higher-ups for being gay; despite accompanying the Dodgers to the World Series, Burke is promptly traded to the Oakland Athletics, “one of the worst teams in all of baseball,” and he and his teammates know why. When the Athletics make their unhappiness with the trade clear, Burke leaves baseball entirely and struggles with the trauma of the events before his early death. But two aspects of his career endure: the high-five, a “game-changing handshake” he coined, and his legacy as a player who opened the door for other LGBTQ athletes to openly live and play. O’Brien’s distinctive use of composition and saturated palette lend cinematic appeal to this affecting story. An author’s note concludes. Ages 6–9. (Feb.)